FROM ALPHABET TO ZICA Names in the News

Crooked Hillary, Lil’ Marco, Low-Energy Jeb… names made a lot of political headlines this year, but they made news in business as well. Here’s Uppercase Branding’s round-up for 2016.

Check out this profile of Amanda Peterson of Google. Her entire job is to create, manage and evaluate every potential name for Google’s new offerings. If you are a word lover, how much do you want that job? If you don’t think names matter, perhaps you might want to follow the lead of this $550B behemoth. See Business Insider

Speaking of tech names, this article captures the travails of Yahoo! through the grammatical gymnastics of its name. While Yahoo! struggled to define itself as either a search engine or a media property, it also tried to right the branding ship by attempting to make the noun also serve as a verb. Do You Yahoo? See AdWeek

Names like Google and Yahoo! are evocative and lay a foundation for a compelling brand story. But in the pharma world, brand name decisions are governed by strict protocols that have a direct impact on sales and patient safety. Here, we learn that biopharma names, especially those that have a certain look and sound, can actually impact a pharmacist’s dispensing habits. See STAT

Check out this piece over at PM360, which suggests trends in drug naming as if the companies had the creative freedom of a Picasso. By our read, these trends reflect nothing more than adherence to longstanding exacting FDA proprietary drug-naming guidelines. See PM360

Proving that physicians can be smart, insightful, creative and funny, we hear from a St. Louis dermatologist who provides her informed take on both drug names and clinical conditions — including our favorite, Cyberchondria (defined as the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptoms based on review of online information). See Dermatology Times

Unquestionably the biggest naming story of the year comes out of the UK as reported in almost every publication imaginable. The New York Times said it best: “This is what happens when you let the internet decide.” We call it Boaty McScrewup. See The New York Times

Two pieces from a couple of niche sites make the claim that Tesla’s naming convention spells out SEXY over the course of the last four product releases. Musk, or one of his peeps, did claim at one time that there is no reason an electric car can’t be sexy, but these stories just don’t pass the sniff test. See CarScoops and BidNessEtc

No compendium of naming stories is complete without a story about Killer Startup Names! An interesting but ultimately not very useful review of names following the usual taxonomy of invented, respelled, fanciful, etc. As if this provides any clue as to what constitutes a Killer name. See Medium

From no less serious a publication than the Wall Street Journal comes a story about Hershey’s bid to purchase Mondelez, and with it the chance to ditch a horrible brand name. The name Mondelez was the Frankenstein monster created during a crowd-sourcing exercise to name Kraft’s snack division. Look, naming isn’t rocket science, but some things are best left to dedicated professionals. If I ever experience chest pain, I am certainly not going respond to a Survey Monkey requesting a diagnosis. See WSJ

Meanwhile, Wired excerpts a fascinating chapter from a book about the science of swear words. And if it were not obvious enough what’s about to unfold, they provide a trigger warning. Is this PC or a clever come-on? While the linguistics and sound symbolism are familiar to those of us in the naming business, anyone looking to name their next product or company should read this carefully. See Wired

After naming wine, booze or lingerie, the most fun project has to be naming reefer. In this article, 21 pot brands are explored from a visual and verbal aesthetic. No mention of product performance. After sampling the various edibles mentioned in the article, I’d probably forget, too. See High Times

From CNN & Money, file this one under “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” India’s Tata Motors has to rename its Zica car after the outbreak of Zika. See CNN-Money

Concluding our round-up, an attaboy to the editors of these articles who, in all but one case, avoided quoting Shakespeare in the headline.